Baseballs flew out of the ballpark Tuesday night, and they were hit by unlikely suspects on the Salt Lake Bees.
Salt Lake hit four home runs and beat the Tacoma Rainiers, 5-3, in the opener of a four-game series at Smith’s Ballpark. Three of the homers came against Tacoma starter Taijuan Walker (4-2).
Walker allowed two home runs to light-hitting Tommy Field, who entered the game with four homers in 276 at-bats this season.
Field lined a solo homer to left in the second inning, and he pulled a deep two-run shot in the fourth. It was the second two-homer game of Field’s career — his first since 2010, when he was in Single A.
After Field’s second homer, Walker seemed to pitch with more intensity. His fastball, which previously topped out at 96 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, jumped to 98, and he struck out five of the next six batters.
“He dialed it up a little more,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said. “That’s why he’s still learning to pitch. Hopefully he’ll take that lesson and understand it.”
After Tacoma (55-56) tied the score in the top of the fifth, Salt Lake’s Brennan Boesch homered off Walker in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-3.
“Here and in the big leagues, there are no deep breaths because everybody one through nine can one-swing him because he throws the ball hard,” Howell said. “You don’t have to be a big guy. You just have to square it up.”
Walker allowed four runs on six hits over five innings, throwing 93 pitches. He struck out seven and walked two.
Salt Lake added an insurance run when Shawn O’Malley homered in the seventh — his second of the year in 198 at-bats.
Justin Smoak hit a solo homer and added a double for Tacoma, and Jesus Montero hit a long double.
Humberto Quintero and Xavier Avery singled with one out in the ninth, but Salt Lake reliever David Carpenter was able to close out the game.
Tacoma sends right-hander Jordan Pries (7-6, 3.78 ERA) to the mound at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday. The Bees plan to start right-hander Caleb Clay (3-1, 3.43).